cattered violence as Egyptians vote in run-offs

cattered violence as Egyptians vote in run-offs

15 November 2005


CAIRO – Scattered violence and allegations of vote-buying and intimidation on Tuesday marred Egyptian parliamentary run-off elections, many between the Islamist opposition and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

A woman was shot and injured outside a polling station in Old Cairo, a working-class area in the south of the capital, hospital sources said. Partisans overturned tables and threw them downstairs during voting in a city centre district.

The monitoring organisation Sawasya said several people were shot and injured in Old Cairo after fighting broke out with fists and knives between the NDP candidate and an independent candidate. Police said they had no statement on the incident.

The Muslim Brotherhood, fielding independents because the authorities will not let them form a political party, have candidates in 42 of the 133 second-round contests, far more than any of the recognised secular opposition parties.

The Brotherhood complained of many violations, including last-minute additions to the electoral register and steps to prevent its supporters from voting in some areas.

In Nasr City in northeast Cairo, where the contest is fierce between female candidate Makarim Eldery and NDP businessman Mustafa el-Sallab, Sallab’s organisers brought 12 busloads of potential voters to one polling station.

One of the passengers, Ayman Ahmed Abdel Ghani, told Reuters that he and 5,800 other employees of state-owned Arab Contractors were brought to the constituency to vote for Sallab after the company registered them en masse there.

He said he was already registered in the Nile Delta and had instead voted for Eldery. “But there are workers who are simple, afraid to say no and they want the money,” he added.

NDP campaign worker Islam Mohamed denied that any voters were paid to vote for Sallab. “They (the Sallab campaign) sent buses to companies to bring workers but it’s up to them whether they come or not,” he told Reuters.

In many of the seats at stake on Tuesday, the contest is between the official NDP candidate and former NDP members who failed to win nomination and ignored orders to stand aside.

In some seats where the official NDP candidate failed in the first round, the NDP is taking the winners back into the party.

“That’s the way these elections are run. If you’re independent and you lose you stay an independent. If you’re independent and you win, you are a member of the NDP,” said Gamal Hanif, a bystander at one of the polling stations.